Elizabeth Stuart, The Winter Queen

Elizabeth Stuart as a widow c. 1642 by Gerard van Honthorst

Elizabeth Stuart as a widow c. 1642 by Gerard van Honthorst (source)

Elizabeth Stuart, The Winter Queen, began her brief period as Queen of Bohemia with her coronation on November 7, 1619. As wife of Frederick V, Elizabeth was the Electress Palatine from the time of their marriage on February 14, 1613, and when Frederick was offered the throne of Bohemia, she urged him to accept it. Unfortunately, the heir apparent, Archduke Ferdinand of Styria, didn’t take kindly to being deposed.

The couple took residence in Prague and were apparently received joyously by the people, particularly after a son was born. In the meantime Archduke Ferdinand had become Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II. One year after his coronation, Frederick was defeated at the Battle of white Mountain by Ferdinand’s forces. At the time of the defeat, Elizabeth was at Castle of Custrin, near Berlin, waiting to give birth. The rest of the family had to flee Prague, but returning to the Palatinate wasn’t an option because it was occupied by the Catholic League and Spanish troops. In the spring of 1621, Frederick and Elizabeth accepted an invitation to live in The Hague.

While living in The Hague, Elizabeth had eight more children. She had a total of 13 with two dying in infancy. In 1932, the year her youngest son was born, Frederick left to meet King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden to discuss his conditions for assisting Frederick to regain his throne. The conditions were not acceptable to Frederick and he was returning to The Hague when he fell ill and died. Elizabeth was grief-stricken, but refused an offer to return to England from her brother Charles I who had succeeded her father James I on the throne. She still had to fight for her son’s rights as the heir to the Palatinate.

Elizabeth’s son Charles Louis finally became Elector of the Palatinate in 1648, but she remained in The Hague. In 1649, her brother Charles I was executed in England and from 1641 to 1652 four of her children died. She spent time with her growing number of grandchildren and in May 1661 arrived in England to visit her nephew Charles II. Sadly, she didn’t have much time to enjoy her long awaited return home. She died the following February from pneumonia.

Find out what else happened on November 7 in Women’s History.

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